Friday, April 26, 2013

Playoffs? Yes Playoffs!

Just get in. This year's New York Rangers are not the top seeded favorites we saw just one year ago. In 2013 they bolted in to the playoffs just as the door was closing. But finally, with one game to go, the Rangers, somehow, some way, scratched and clawed their way into the post season.

And so - wipe the slates clean. There are 16 teams left. And we all need the same 16 wins to hoist Lord Stanley's silver bucket.

It was, in some ways, a game like the Ranger's season. We can look great. They can look terrible. And all in the same game.

A first period two goal lead gave us all a false sense of security. Derek and Derick got us on the board (Brassard and Stepan - both assisted by Hagelin).

But in the second period, sure enough, the wheels came off and the Hurricane came all the way back. With three Stahl brothers on the ice ( everyone but the one we wanted there) Carolina tied the at two heading into the final frame.

And so after getting bellowed at by coach John Tortorella for ten minutes, the Rangers stormed on to the ice and quickly fell behind 3-2.

And then, with time running out, with the 9th place Jets grabbing the lead in their game, with the NJ Devils realizing that they might soon be getting the chance to turn the tables and eliminate the Rangers they way the Rangers eliminated them....

The Rangers rose from the dead.

Like zombies.

It was Brad Richards and a huge dose of puck luck that evened the score. Richards banged the puck off the end boards. It bounces back - hit
Ellis' skate and found the net.

Call it ugly. Call it fate. Call it luck.

But we'll take it. The Rangers had fought back to tie.

On to overtime with the playoffs in the balance.

For most of the extra period Carolina pounded away at Lundqvist. Henrik had surrendered 3 goals on not-so-many shots but with the game on the line he held firm.

And then came Callahan's chance. The Captain found the puck and launched a perfect shot from a bad angle. He beat Ellis by finding the upper corner of the far side of the net.

And then.... Celebration

The Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Strap in kids - this could be one hell of a ride.


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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rangers Beat Flyers 4-2, Staal Injured

It's always a big momentum shifter when team scores in the first or last two minutes if a period. Ranger Captain Ryan Callahan did both in the first period last night on Madison Square Garden. But it only gave the Rangers a 2-2 tie against the Philadelphia Flyers and so there was more work to do against a team we beat regularly last year.

The second period was scoreless. The third period was taken over by Ranger superstar Rick Nash. The big man notched two goals against Mr. Universe (that's what Pucks Junior calls Philly goalie Bryzgalov ever since his "galaxies and stars" soliloquy on HBO last year) and that was the difference in a 4-2 Ranger win.

It's nice to have Nash around, isn't it? In hockey the system matters and the strategy matters but it just helps so much to have a guy who can putt he puck in the net when we need it.

Hank stopped .920 of the shots he faced while Mr. Universe saved just .800 percent. It's also really nice to have Lundqvist back there.

But the win, this third in a row, came with some potentially bad news. Marc Staal took a deflected puck squarely in the eye in the third period and did not return. It looked frightening and we are hoping the key defenseman is okay.

New York leapfrogged the falling Flyers into the eighth seed in the playoff race. That means if the season ends today....,

...we'd all be surprised since there are two months to go in the season.

Anyway. A good win and hopefully the good play continues.


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Monday, February 18, 2013

Rangers Fail to Lose Lead - Beat Caps 2-1

With Dave Pucks and Pucks Junior in attendance the Rangers rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat the despised Washington Capitals and the more despised Alexander Ovechkin 2-1.

The Capitals Holtby stopped 38 of 40 shots for a .950 save percentage. But Henrik Lundqvist was better with a .964.

The Game started off in frustrating fashion as Washington defenseman Carlson beat Lundqvist just 79 seconds into the contest to spot the Caps to an early one goal lead. Holtby then took over - stopping the Rangers on 20 first period shots I goal to escape the first period 1-0, despite being outplayed by the New Yorkers.

It was Carl Hagalin who finally got the Rangers on the board in the second by deflecting a Ryan McDonuagh shot past the Capital's netminder.

So on to the third period we went. And finally, the Rangers power play scored a key goal. 4:25 in, Derek Stepan sved Holtby, a d pt the rangers up to stay.

Form then on the Rangers, after failures in their two prior contests, were as to hold a lead and finish off their opponent in regulation.

Hank was brilliant and the Rangers kept their poise and kept digging throughout as the game slowly turned in their favor. And our one-time nemesis Alex Ovechkin was held pointless and was soundly jeered every time he touched the puck.

A good day for the Rangers. Glad I was there to see it.


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Sunday, February 17, 2013

We'll Be There Tonight

 

First of all - like my hero Hockey Rodent - old Dave Pucks is having a hard time hanging in and hanging on these days.  The economy is still not great - I'm working longer hours with a much longer commute.  And I'm needed at home with two sons.

But - I'm staying here.  I'll keep firing away at this blog for as long as I can.  Just understand if it's not every day.

A few thoughts about our recent Rangers:

My co-worker Joey G. is a Islander fan.  And the last two Ranger games he watched - he turned off the TV and went to bed with the Rangers up 3-0 and 2-0 respectively.  Once Joe tuned out - the Rangers fell apart  - twice - and both games ended up in the shoot out.  So my mission now is trying to figure out a way to keep Joe's TV on until the games are over.

I think our Rangers will be okay. It will take Tortorella a little longer to get the troops playing right this year because he didn't have a training camp.  But the conditioning and consistency will get there - just not as soon as we'd like.

One more note - Pucks Junior and I will be attending the Rangers-Capitals contest tonight at MSG.  And I'll keep posting - as best I can - from now on.

Let's go Rangers.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rangers beat Islanders - season saved - again!

Let's go back to the Captain!

This is a hockey club with some star power.  You've got Nash and Lundqvist and Gaborik and Richards.  But without captain Ryan Callahan - you don't have a winning team. 

Cally returned to the lineup last night and just like that the Rangers returned to form with a desperately needed 4-1 victory over the hated rival New York Islanders. 

 J.T. Miller was exactly what John Tortorella needed as the 19 year old rookie got the Rangers on the scoreboard in the game's first minute and added a second in a stunning MSG debut.  The young man's energy got the whole team going.  Putting Kreider and Callahan on JT's line was another Tortorella special that worked to perfection. 

And perhaps most importantly, Henrik Lundqvist finally started playing like Henrik Lundqvist last night, looking sharp from the outset and only surrendering one goal. 

We're only 5 and 5 now and we have a long way to go and much work to do as a hockey team.   But you gotta admit - we needed that win and it felt great to get it.  

And it all starts with Captain Ryan Callahan


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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Woah! Rangers Win A Second Hockey Game!


When John Tortorella first looked at the Rangers lockout-shortened schedule this year - he probably thought that the Maple Leafs game was a good opportunity to give Henrik Lundqvist the night off. 

Of course, when  we got to Saturday, the Rangers 1-3 record made that move impossible. 

The problem is - for the first period - Henrik acted like he did have the night off - even though he was in goal (editor please play ironic "boing" sound now.)

While the rangers got 14 Shots on goal in the first, they only let up three. Of course, this resulted in a two to nothing deficit for our heroes.

Because two of Toronto's three first period shots scooted behind Henrik to give the lowly Maple Leaf's a 2-0 first period lead. The confused rangers skated off the ice after the first period as the Garden faithful rained boo's down on them.

There was nothing to do but keep on attacking and hope that the Hockey Gods would restore the natural order of the universe. The second period went somewhat better. Hank made 6 saves instead of 1 – and the Rangers got one of their 11 shots past Reimer.

It was Brad Richards – once again on the Super Line with Gaborik and Nash who each assisted on Bard's second goal of the season to cut the deficit to 2-1. We need a name for this line – if you don't like “Super Line” how about “Super Marian Brothers” or – for you old timers GAG Line Two (editor – this is after the original Goal A Game line of Ratelle, Hadfield and Gilbert in the 1970s)

So after two periods we're out-shooting the Leafs 25 to 9, hank has a big 7 saves and we're still losing. But don't worry – The Rangers show up huge in the third.

With their fragile season once again on the line – Marc Staal nets the tying goal at 7:36 as he and Del Zotto worked the puck deep as the Toronto defense focused on Gabby, Brad and Rick.

The go ahead goal was one of the prettiest goals fro Gaborik we've seen since – well – Wednesday I guess. This time The Gifted One deflected a Marc Staal shot in the Toronto that is hard to see even in slow motion. Holding the stick vertical to the ice – Marian makes perfect contact with the blistering shot and Riemer never had a chance.

Two more goals – One off of a Boyle and the other an empty netter from Gabby sealed the deal.
The offensive stats look great: Two Goals and Two assists for Marian. Two assists for Nash and Del Zotto. A goal and assist for Staal and Richards. Lone assists for Stepan and Girardi.

A less good story for Hank. It's hard to win a 5-2 game with a lower save percentage than your opposing goalie, but Hank (.882) did exactly that with Reimer (.902).

But plenty of good news to talk about. Offense back on track. Hank did save the last 14 shots he faced, and Ranger fans can step back off the ledge for another two days.

Next up is a Tuesday night game when the Flyers come to town. That gives Tortorella a few days to train and coach his team. Let's see if it makes a difference.









Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Rangers Win A Hockey Game

Stop the presses! The season is not over. The Rangers have won a hockey game.

Twenty seconds into overtime and the Rangers, still winless after 180 minutes of the 2013 season, were defending in their own zone as the boss-town Bruins, who had scored three of the games last four goals, were on the attack.

And the stage was set for Marian Gaborik to take over a game - and maybe save a season.

Step 1. Gabby lunges forward and deflects a cross ice Bruin pass out of the Rangers' defensive zone toward center ice. Huge play that ended the Boston threat.

Step Two: Marian beats everyone to the deflected puck. Now we have possession of the puck.

Step Three: Gabby puts his head down and skates with all his might and speed toward the Bruin goal, maintaining just the slightest lead over the chasing defenseman. Holy crap - we've got a breakaway.

Step Four: Gaborik slams the blade of his stick to the ice - but does not shoot yet. Go back and look at this on the video. It's an attempt to throw the Boston goaltender just a big off his timing. What a great move. How many other players have you EVER seen pulling that stunt with the game on the line.

Step five: Gabby shoots. The off balance goaltender - who has been killing us all night -makes a great stop and the puck bounces into the air.

Step Six: Gaborik does the impossible. In the tiny fraction of a second left to him, Marian lifts his stick and with the stick blade swats the puck out of mid air - and into the Bruin's goal.

Rangers Win. The Rangers Win!

It's early. And we have a lot of work to do. But make no mistake. That was a huge goal and a huge win for the New York Ranger hockey team.

And tonight they are right back at it against the Flyers.

- Dave Pucks